Neuroplasticity…your brain is never the same.

There is no one recipe for learning, this gets a bit challenging but every one of us who watches this video, sits in a class, reads a book, watches a movie, plays catch, whatever we do we take away different things from the experience.

How might we best help our students, and ourselves build the best version of our brains?

What’s the framework for our learning?


In this relatively recent presentation Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy which started out with Sal creating videos to help his nephew with his math homework.

Here Sal talks about why he invented Khan Academy

This is not to suggest this is the only way, rather it is another way to learn.  I wonder if each of us pondered about something we’d like to learn to do, a craft, a trade, a simple skill, what are the variables and resources involved with us learning whatever it is we desire to learn?

What factor does time play in your learning? How will you assess that learning? Who are the teachers for what you want to learn?  More questions than answers in this post and that’s ok.  I’m interested in hearing stories about something you wanted to learn, something you wanted to master and how you went about achieving that goal.



Edwin Markham wrote:

“He drew a circle that shut me out –
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!

Mother Teresa stated, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

In On Such a Full Sea, Chang-rae Lee wrote, “It is ‘where we are’ that should make all the difference, whether we believe we belong there or not.”

The author of the the Allegiant series, Veronica Roth wrote, “I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me–they, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could.”

How do we decide who belongs?

In stores and books, and it seems in life as well we tend to sort and categorize put items in a box, and maybe people…is that ok? How can it change?  Consider this video post by Prince Ea


Differentiated Learning IS Rigorous Work…

One of our key tenets is to support the learning experience for all students with an eye to raising the individual and collective bar in instruction, learning, and assessment. These efforts should be made to create the most inclusive of classrooms where all students feel an authentic sense of belonging and are supported in their learning.

While many consider conversations around inclusive education to focus on meeting needs of students identified with particularly learning disabilities the fact is the net for a truly inclusive education system is cast far further with consideration for race, gender, culture, gender identify, basically any effort required to best meet the learning needs of ALL students across the entire spectrum.

An inclusive system requires ongoing learning by the professionals in the system and levels of collaboration that provide opportunities for everyone in the school community to explore the data, ask questions about the gaps that are identified and work to improve the learning experience for all students.

An inclusive education system should challenge our thought process around streaming – particularly at the high school level.  Are we doing all we can to support students reaching and stretching – is that assistance universal?

Much of the reading that has been shared over the past several years ultimately has the potential to support efforts to be both inclusive and rigorous in providing the best possible education/learning experience.

In contemplating rigor Tony Wagner shares some thoughts specifically challenging the notion that it’s more work or “harder work” rather it’s better thinking, better questioning strategies, better evaluation methodologies.

Sources and Resources:

Edutopia’s Sept 2015 post – Round-up of Differentiated Instruction Resources

Larry Ferazzio is an active blogger and educator he has compiled a number of resources to support differentiated instruction including posts, articles, and video clips from folks like Rick Wormeli and Carol Ann Tomlinson.

Carol Ann Tomlinson has compiled a list of books, articles and videos – you can access those materials here.

Books on my list:

Anything from Carol Ann Tomlinson

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David Sousa’s work on differentiation and the brain – some repetition across the series but interesting differences across the spectrum

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Labels – can we scrub them and move forward?

At the core of an inclusive society, community, school, classroom,  is a core belief in equality. Our attitudes, our thoughts, our words and our actions all feed into how we treat each other, work with each other and support each other in being the best we are capable of becoming.  When I ponder our classrooms how quickly do we want to fall to labels while somewhat losing sight of the individual. Regardless of who we are, what we look like, what we believe, we have much more in common than what we often sadly allow to divide and separate.

Ponder this first then consider the video:

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Collaborative Problem Solving -CPS

One of our regular presenters at our Education Assistants Conference is Kent Hollingsworth who does an excellent job presenting on CPS and the principles of rethinking our approach to students presenting challenging behaviors.  At the root of this training is the work initially done together by Dr. Stuart Ablon and Dr. Ross Greene.

When working together Dr. Ablon and Dr. Greene co-wrote “Treating Explosive Kids: The Collaborative Problem-Solving Approach.  Dr. Greene has gone on to write “The Explosive Child” and “Lost at School” (we have placed dozens of copies of Lost at School in the hands of teachers, administration and education assistants over the last couple of years).

As is sometimes the case collaborators move on to develop their own programs and expertise but we are provided with access to the combined wisdom of both authors and researchers and some of that information is included below.

Dr. Ablon’s Think:Kids Rethinking Challenging Kids Website can be accessed here and has a wide range of references, video links and research articles to consider.

Dr Ablon’s model for a checklist and inventory of problems to be solved – skill deficit and challenging behaviour can be viewed here.

Dr. Ablon speaking at TedX :Rethinking Challenging Kids – Where There’s a Skill There’s a Way.

Dr. Greene’s perspective on this work can be accessed at two websites.

The first is the Center for Collaborative Problem Solving it contains links to articles and information on the two books mentioned above by Dr. Greene.

The second site contains more hands on information, videos, and resources tied to Dr. Greene’s non-profit organization, Lives in the Balance.

Much like Dr. Ablon’s checklist above Dr. Greene has developed a sheet entitled Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems which is referred to as the ALSUP. He also provides a Problem Solving Plan (formerly referred to as Plan B flowchart) Plan B is fundamental to Dr. Greene’s approach to working with students.

Dr. Greene also maintains a youtube channel with a series of videos that outline his approach to working with students. I’ve included the first video from that website below.

Dr. Greene “Kids do well if they can”




2016 Westwind Education Assistant Conference Feedforward

Thank you for your participation in the EA Conference day in Magrath. Here is the link to the survey for you to provide your thoughts on the day, the sessions, any suggestions for sessions next year and this year your thoughts on any of the sessions which you feel we should also find a way for teachers to experience.

Click on this link 

Have a great balance of the year.

As promised the slides from the opening are shared here, once again my thanks to those “Yellow dots” for their active participation in the session.